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Volume 16, Issue 2
February 2018


Military helicopters buzz Cedar Mill
By Virginia Bruce

On the evening of January 18, local folks were surprised and disturbed to hear very low-flying military helicopters overhead. NextDoor and Facebook erupted with reports of sightings and “hearings.” One person described what he saw, “The lead Ch-47 Chinook was blacked out, the middle was a Chinook that had a green and red light on, and the trail Blackhawk was lit up like normal.”

military helicopter

After following several dead-ends, we finally spoke to Joe Kubistek, in the Public Affairs department at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington State, who confirmed that it was a “proficiency training” operation by their people. The exercise took place from 7-11 pm that night.

He explained that according to their records, our area was a “Class G” low-density area that was appropriate for training. He speculated that they may not have been conducting their training here but might have been on their way to their target area.

We asked if we could expect to see and hear this again and he couldn’t predict anything. He says they vary the areas they train in so they can be prepared. We hope they’re not preparing for operations in the suburbs!

While trying to track down the source of the flight, we spoke to Nathan, the Operations Supervisor at the Hillsboro Airport. He pointed us to an interesting resource called Webtrak, which is a website that shows the radar tracks for a variety of aircraft. You can set it to show flights on any date, and play it speeded up so you can watch aircraft zipping around the area. Unfortunately, the radar is located on the other side of the west hills, so it didn’t show these helicopters because they would have been in the shadow of the hills. Interesting though, and it gives you the ability to report noise complaints based on flights.

We also learned that Oregon has a state Military Office. Their Community Relations representative, Major Bonar, was most helpful in suggesting the source of the operation, saying he had heard several reports of this incident.

Joint Base Lewis-McChord has a page to report noise complaints as well. If the January 18 incident caused problems for you or your family members, you might visit their page and file a report. (I had my hearing aids out by the time they flew over our house, but I actually heard something too!)


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Publisher/Editor:Virginia Bruce
PO Box 91061
Portland, Oregon 97291
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